Have always wanted to get into hiking but don’t know where to start? One of the first tasks you need to do before you hit the trail is to decide what to wear hiking. Can I wear my sneakers? Will this rain jacket be ok? If you aren’t sure what to wear, you aren’t alone, that’s one of the most common questions new hikers ask.

There are a lot of clothing options. Here at The Adventure Junkies, we understand how frustrating it may feel to review all these one by one. To help you out, we put together this ultimate hiking clothing guide. Whether it’s winter or summer, alpine peaks or tropical jungle, we’ve got you covered.

 

 

LEARN HOW TO CHOOSE HIKING GEAR FOR YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE

 

 

HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE

To help you figure out what clothes you need for which situations, we’ve added some useful info next to each item. The categories will give you an idea of what to look for and lead you to extra information.

 

BEST MATERIALS: This is to get an idea of what the best quality products are made of.

PRICE RANGE: We listed a range of prices so you can know what to expect when you start shopping.

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: This is what condition is the item designed for.

TYPE OF HIKING: Some items are better suits for short hikes while others you’ll want to bring if you are planning an overnight hike.

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Different items of clothing have different properties such as waterproof, breathable and more. If you aren’t familar with these terms, there is a section at the end that will go into more detail in the Fabric Properties 101 section of this article.

OTHER OPTIONS: Many times there are alternatives to the products we’ve listed here. It’s all about experimenting and finding what works best for your body and the type of hiking you do.

LEARN MORE: This article is designed to be an overview. If you want to learn more about a particular product, we’ll give you a link in this section. 

 

 

MULTI-DAY
HIKING PACKING LIST

Don't forget important gear at home!


Print out this free hiking packing list to prepare for your next adventure.


Plus, you'll get exclusive content in our newsletter to help you make the most of your time on the trail!

* You will get weekly emails with practical hiking advice that complement the information contained in the packing list. You can always opt out of these emails.

 

 

1. FOOTWEAR

Shoes are the most important thing you’ll wear on the trail. They protect your feet and give your ankles support when carrying a heavy pack.

You have several options to consider when it comes to hiking footwear. There are heavy backpacking boots, hiking shoes, trail running shoes and sandals. What’s most important is that you wear a sturdy shoe that will provide support, protection from rocks and traction on wet and dry terrain. 

 

best hiking shoesPhoto by istockphoto.com/portfolio/lzf

 

 

HIKING BOOTS

Hiking boots are ideal for multi-day hiking trips where you will be carrying a heavy pack and tackling some tough conditions. By tough conditions, think deep in the backcountry. Hiking boots shine when it comes to rocky terrain and cold weather. Thick leather high cut boots are best for areas known for having a lot of snakes.

If the temperatures are going to be extremely low (less than 15 degrees Fahrenheit, or -10 degrees Celsius) it’s worth considering insulated boots. When trying them on, make sure you’re wearing the socks you would be wearing on the trail, as you’ll find you need to go a half or full size larger than normal.

Some of the best heavy duty boots are the Zamberlan Vioz Lux, Salomon Quest 4D 2 and Vasque Eriksson.

If you still want the support and protection a hiking boot offer but aren’t going to be exploring the backcountry, consider wearing a lightweight hiking boot. Some of the best lightweight hiking boots are the Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 and Merrell Moab 2.

 

BEST MATERIALS: Full Grain Leather Upper, Polyurethane Midsole and Lug Pattern Rubber Outsole

PRICE RANGE: $70 – $400

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Wet, Cold and Snow

TYPE OF HIKING: Backpacking, Thru-Hiking

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Waterproof/ Breathable

OTHER OPTIONS: Hiking Shoes, Trail Running Shoes

LEARN MORE: Hiking Boots 101 >>

 

 

 

HIKING SHOES

Hiking shoes offer comfort and control with less weight and bulk than boots. These low-cut shoes with flexible midsoles are excellent for day hiking. If you are an ultralight backpacker, you may even choose trail-running shoes for long-distance hikes.

Some of the most popular hiking shoes are the Keen Targhee Exp Low, Merrell Moab Ventilator and Saloman X Ultra Low 2.

 

BEST MATERIALS: Waterproof Leather and Vibram Rubber Sole 

PRICE RANGE: $50 – $200

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Hot – Cool Weather

TYPE OF HIKING: Day Hiking, Ultra-light Backpacking

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Breathable

OTHER OPTIONS: Hiking Sandals, Trail Running Shoes, Approach Shoes

LEARN MORE: Hiking Shoes 101 >>

 

 

 

HIKING SANDALS

Hiking sandals are can be a great choice for a warm weather hike on a gentle well-worn trail. This is especially true in tropical climates. Some hikers choose to wear sandals if the trail will have a few river crossings.

Also, if you’re planning a multi-day backpacking trip, a pair of hiking sandals are a great alternative to heavy boots on easy days or when your feet just need to breathe.

Some of the most popular hiking sandals are the Teva Terra, Chaco Z/2 and Keen Newport H2.

 

BEST MATERIALS: Synthetic Webbing, Polyurethane Mid Sole, Rubber Outsole

PRICE RANGE: $40 – $150

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Hot and/or Wet Weather

TYPE OF HIKING: Day Hiking and Canyoning

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Breathable

OTHER OPTIONS: Hiking Shoes and Trail Running Shoes

LEARN MORE: Hiking Sandals 101 >>

 

 

 

HIKING SOCKS

In winter conditions, most hikers prefer to wear thick woolen socks that will keep their feet warm and also provide excellent cushioning. However, you may find that wearing a sock liner under a lighter weight woolen sock is more comfortable due to the reduced likelihood of blisters. Trial and error is the only way of working out what works best for you.

Some of the best hiking socks are the Darn Tough Micro Crew, Smart Wool Ultra Light Mini, and Thorlo Lite.

 

BEST MATERIALS: Merino Wool 

PRICE RANGE: $10 – $50

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: All Conditions

TYPE OF HIKING: All Types

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Breathable

OTHER OPTIONS: N/A

LEARN MORE: Hiking Socks 101 >>

 

 

 

GAITERS

Gaiters are often overlooked, they won’t cost a lot but will provide excellent protection against stones, mud, water and other debris from entering your boot and causing your feet to get wet.

In summer you will be dealing with the additional risk of snakes in the undergrowth, and a pair of gaiters will give you the confidence of knowing your lower legs are completely protected from an unexpected attack.

Some of the best gaiters are the Outdoor Research Rocky Mountain LowHillsound Armadillo and Outdoor Research Crocodile.

 

BEST MATERIALS: Cordura 

PRICE RANGE: $30 – $70

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: All Conditions

TYPE OF HIKING: All Types

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Waterproof/ Breathable

OTHER OPTIONS: N/A

LEARN MORE: Hiking Gaiters 101 >>

 

 

 

 

2. BOTTOMS

When it comes to the lower half of your body there are a lot of options from pants, leggings to shorts. You’ll need to consider the weather and type of hiking you’ll be doing. In some conditions, you’ll need a few pairs of pants to keep you warm and dry. 

 

best shorts for backpackingPhoto by istockphoto.com/portfolio/benedek

 

 

 

HIKING SHORTS OR PANTS

Like all other pieces of hiking clothing, hiking pants are no different, you’ll want to consider the weather when choosing what to wear. Some hikers love to wear shorts while others like to protect their legs by wearing pants. Others enjoy the stretch of leggings. Here we’ll walk you through the options.

Shorts are a great option for summer hiking on open trails. If you want to go for a swim in the river or lake while on your hike, look for a pair of shorts with a built in liner.

The Prana Stretch Zion and Colombia Silver Ridge are some of the most popular models.

Pants are best for hiking in cooler weather. Many hikers love the cargo pants models because there are plenty of pockets to stash granola bars and a handheld GPS.

One thing you’ll never want to wear while hiking is denim jeans. If they get wet they get really heavy and don’t have a lot of stretch and give to them.

The ideal hiking pants for most conditions are lightweight and made from a quick drying fabric. They should also have a bit of stretch to them.

The Outdoor Research Ferrosi and Prana Brion are some of the best hiking pants.

Many hiking pants now are also available in a convertible style, where the lower leg sections can be unzipped and removed, turning your pants into shorts in a matter of seconds.

Leggings or yoga pants can also be a comfortable option for warm weather. They will provide you with the ventilation of shorts while giving your legs some protection from the sun. 

Leggings aren’t just an option for girls. Many men choose to wear leggings under a pair of shorts.

 

BEST MATERIALS: Nylon/ Spandex blend

PRICE RANGE: $30 – $180

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: All Conditions

TYPE OF HIKING: All Types

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Breathable and Sun Protection

OTHER OPTIONS: Leggings, Yoga Pants, Skirts, Soft Shell Pants

LEARN MORE: Hiking Shorts 101 >> & Hiking Pants 101 >>

 

 

 

LONG UNDERWEAR

In cool conditions, consider wearing long underwear (aka leggings) under your hiking pants. This base layer for the legs is designed to manage moisture. If you’re going to be walking for a few hours, you’re going to be sweating, even on a cold day. Having your clothes wet isn’t only uncomfortable, it can cause chaffing. Having a good pair of leggings next to your skin is going to draw sweat away from the body which will keep you warm and dry. 

Leggings come in various weights. Generally, there are three core options: lightweight, mid weight and heavy weight. Some brands even make ultra-light models. Most hikers opt for the mid weight options as a good all-around layer. If you’re planning on hiking in them, consider trying out a lightweight pair so you don’t over heat on the trail.

Some of the most popular models are the Icebreaker Oasis and Arc’teryx Trino Tights.

 

BEST MATERIALS: Merino Wool 

PRICE RANGE: $30 – $150

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Cool to Cold Weather

TYPE OF HIKING: All Types

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Breathable and Wicking

OTHER OPTIONS: N/A

LEARN MORE: Hiking Long Underwear 101 >>

 

 

 

RAIN PANTS

These pants are windproof and waterproof, and the best models will include zippers on the sides to not only allow you to pull them on without having to take off your boots but to also give you venting options to help regulate your temperature.

Since you will be carrying these pants most of the time (as opposed to wearing them), you should consider the weight when choosing a pair. 

The most popular models are the Colombia Storm Surge and Helly Hanson Voss.

 

BEST MATERIALS: Nylon

PRICE RANGE: $50 – $150

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Wet Weather

TYPE OF HIKING: All Types – Especially Overnight Trips

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Waterproof/ Breathable

OTHER OPTIONS: N/A

LEARN MORE: Hiking Rain Pants 101 >>

 

 

 

UNDERWEAR

Will your normal boxers, panties and bras while hiking? For short hikes they will do but if you’re planning on doing long overnight hikes, consider getting underwear made specifically for being active outdoors. 

Choosing hiking underwear is simple. The key thing is selecting underwear that is either synthetic or wool. Cotton is not a good idea, as it traps moisture and is slow to dry. Managing moisture is key to being comfortable while hiking. The layers closest to your skin need to be dry for the rest of your clothing to keep you warm.

Some of the best hiking underwear for men are the Exofficio Boxer Brief and the Smart Wool 150. Women hikers really love the Exofficio Bikini Brief.

Hiking women find a good sports bra is much more comfortable to hike in than an everyday bra. This is because they are specifically designed for movement and are made of quick dry materials.

The Moving Comfort Rebound Racer and Nike Pro Classic are some of the most popular models.

 

BEST MATERIALS: Merino Wool or Nylon

PRICE RANGE: $15 – $50

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: All Conditions

TYPE OF HIKING: All Types

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Breathable and Quick Dry

OTHER OPTIONS: N/A

LEARN MORE: Hiking Underwear 101 >>

 

 


Gear up for hiking, without breaking the bank

Get the Latest Deals on Hiking Gear

Sent straight to your inbox...

 

 

 

3. TOPS

When it comes to the upper half of your body there are a lot of options from lightweight t-shirts, thermal layers and shells. You’ll need to consider the weather and type of hiking you’ll be doing. In some conditions, you’ll need a few layers of shirts and jackets to keep you warm and dry. 

 

best shirts for hot weatherPhoto by istockphoto.com/portfolio/markskalny

 

 

HIKING SHIRTS

For hiking shirts, you’ll be choosing from casual t-shirts or a long-sleeve shirt. Like any gear option, it’s really a matter of personal preference. Some shirts are designed for specific conditions.

A basic t-shirt will do for a day out on the trail. As with anything you plan to wear outside, cotton should be avoided. Saying this, if you’re planning a short hike that isn’t too strenuous, wearing a cotton shirt won’t kill you. For multi-day hiking trips, shirts made from merino or synthetic materials are best. They will dry quickly and stay fresher longer than your cotton t-shirt.

A tank top or a camisole can be a great way to stay cool on hot days, just make sure to wear plenty of sunscreen if the trail doesn’t provide any shade.

If you want sun and or insect protection, a long sleeve shirt is a solution. If you want some added protection from mosquitos and other pests, look for a shirt with built in insect repellant. 

The Craghoppers Kiwi and the Columbia Silver Ridge are two popular choices.

 

BEST MATERIALS: Merino Wool or Polyester Blend 

PRICE RANGE: $15 – $60

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Warm Weather

TYPE OF HIKING: All Types

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Breathable, Sun Protection and Wicking

OTHER OPTIONS: N/A

LEARN MORE: Hot Weather Hiking Shirts 101 >> & Hiking Shirts 101 >>

 

 

 

BASE LAYER SHIRT

Keeping your core warm is essential for staying safe and comfortable on cold days. To start off your layering system, wear a thermal base layer. These shirts are designed to fit your body tightly to trap heat. A good base layer top wicks moisture away from your skin which helps you stay dry.

Many models come in a crew neck and zip-neck option. Zip-necks allow you to adjust as you get hot or cold. They tend to be a bit pricier than the crew neck version. 

As with anything you wear outside, cotton should be avoided. This is because it holds on to sweat and can leave you feeling wet, clammy and chilled. Look for base layers made of synthetic fabric, merino wool or silk. We’d only recommend you to use silk for around camp, not while hiking. 

Thermal underwear is available in light-, mid- and heavy- (expedition) weights. If you plan to hike in an area where the temperature can change quickly, you might consider layering base layers. For example, you can wear a light weight top next to your skin then pull over a mid weight top if you get cold.

The Smart Wool NTS 250 and Icebreaker Oasis Crew are popular options. 

 

BEST MATERIALS: Merino Wool or Synthetic 

PRICE RANGE: $50 – $200

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Cool – Cold Weather 

TYPE OF HIKING: All Types

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Breathable and Wicking

OTHER OPTIONS: N/A

LEARN MORE: Thermal Baselayers 101 >>

 

 

 

DOWN JACKET OR VEST 

If you plan to hike in very cold and dry conditions, consider bringing a goose down jacket or vest. Down offers an unbeatable warmth-to-weight ratio and is highly compressible. One big drawback to down is that it needs to be kept dry to keep its insulating ability. However, the best use of a down jacket is to wear it around camp, so there shouldn’t be much of an issue keeping it dry.

The Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody and the Arc’teryx Cerium are some of the best options.

 

BEST MATERIALS: 850 White Goose Down  

PRICE RANGE: $150 – $400

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: ICold and Dry 

TYPE OF HIKING: Backpacking

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Insulating

OTHER OPTIONS: Fleece Jacket

LEARN MORE: Down Jackets 101 >>Down Vests 101 >>

 

 

 

FLEECE OR SOFT-SHELL JACKET

A fleece is an excellent mid layer to wear while hiking on cool days. Mid layers are all about insulation, they are what keeps you warm. The advantages of this type of jacket are they’re lightweight, breathable and insulate even when wet. Also, they dry fast and have higher warmth-to-weight ration compared to wool.

The North Face Denali 2 and the Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan are two popular options.

Fleece tops come in light-, mid- and heavy- weight options. For strenuous hikes in mild climates, we’d recommend a lightweight fleece. Mid weight versions are great for cooler weather. The heavy weight expedition style fleece tops are designed for very cold climates.

A soft-shell fleece has a water resistant shell. Some hikers love them and others hate them. They aren’t as versatile as traditional fleece jackets and tend to be heavier. Also, since they aren’t fully waterproof, you’ll still want to carry a rain jacket. They were designed with aerobic activities in mind such as climbing, mountaineering, ski-touring, backpacking, cycling, and running.

 

BEST MATERIALS: Polyester

PRICE RANGE: $60 – $300

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Cool – Cold Weather

TYPE OF HIKING: All types

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Insulating Breathable

OTHER OPTIONS: Down Jacket

LEARN MORE: Fleece Jackets 101 >> & Soft Shell Jackets 101 >>

 

 

 

RAIN JACKET

A rain jacket is designed to protect you from the environment, to block out the rain, the snow and the wind. A good quality jacket will have a waterproof breathable membrane which will let you sweat without feeling like you’re wearing a plastic bag. Nearly all are treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish to make water bead up and roll off the fabric.

The Mountain Hardware Finder and Arc’teryx Beta SL are two great choices. 

 

BEST MATERIALS: Nylon & Goretex

PRICE RANGE: $70 – $400+

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Wet and Cold Weather

TYPE OF HIKING: All Types

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Waterproof/ Breathable, Lightweight

OTHER OPTIONS: N/A

LEARN MORE: Rain Jackets 101 >>

 

 

 

4. ACCESSORIES

Hiking accessories like hats and sunglasses help protect us from the sun and keep us cool on the trail. On cold days you might want to pack a beanie and a pair of gloves to stay warm.

 

best hiking sunglassesPhoto by istockphoto.com/portfolio/ueuaphoto

 

 

 

SUN HAT

A simple hiking hat is likely all you will need in summer. A broad brim that encompasses your entire head will provide the best protection from the sun. Materials do vary, but try and find one in a quick-dry synthetic material if possible.

The Outdoor Research Helios and the Tilly Endurables Airflow are popular options.

 

BEST MATERIALS: Nylon

PRICE RANGE: $10 – $70

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Hot & Sunny Weather

TYPE OF HIKING: All Types

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Sun Protection

OTHER OPTIONS: Buff or Bandana

LEARN MORE: Hiking Hats 101 >>

 

 

 

BEANIE

It may have scientifically disproven, but an uncovered head certainly feels to me like the biggest contributor to feeling cold! A snow hat barely takes up any room in your pack, and yet the warmth it provides is significant. Paired with a scarf, you may even find yourself getting too warm but you may find it necessary in some super cold conditions.

Some popular beanies for hikers are the Mountain Hardware Dome Perignon and the Colombia Sports Thermarator.

 

BEST MATERIALS: Wool

PRICE RANGE: $20 – $50

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Cold Weather

TYPE OF HIKING: Any Type

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Breathable and Insulating

OTHER OPTIONS: Balaclava or Buff

LEARN MORE: Snow Hats 101 >>

 

 

 

GLOVES

The decision on whether to buy a pair of hiking gloves depends heavily on the temperatures that you are likely to encounter. In most winter conditions a pair of gloves isn’t necessary, but if there is a risk of frostbite, or extremely rough terrain requiring physical protection for your hands, then you may need to reconsider.

The North Face TKA 100 and the Outdoor Research Versaliner are two popular options. 

 

BEST MATERIALS: Merino Wool and Synthetics

PRICE RANGE: $10 – $50

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: Cold, Windy and Wet

TYPE OF HIKING: All Types

IDEAL PROPERTIES: Waterproof/ Breathable

OTHER OPTIONS: Mittens or Snow Gloves

LEARN MORE: Hiking Gloves 101 >>

 

 

 

SUNGLASSES

Sunglasses are a must on any hike, whether it’s hot, cold, or in between. Your eyes are so delicate that you shouldn’t be taking any risks, whether that’s from UV exposure or from grit and other foreign objects blowing in the wind.

Some of the most popular hiking sunglasses are the Maui Jim Haleakala and the Oakley Flak 2.0.

 

BEST MATERIALS: 100% UV Protected Coating 

PRICE RANGE: $20 – $300+

CONDITIONS BEST FOR: All Conditions

TYPE OF HIKING: All Types

IDEAL PROPERTIES: N/A

OTHER OPTIONS: N/A

LEARN MORE: Hiking Sunglasses 101 >>

 

 

 

FABRIC PROPERTIES 101

Outdoor clothing is specifically designed for active people and the activities they love to do. It’s important to know what properties to look for in hiking clothes so you can decide which products are best for you. 

 

best down jacketPhoto by istockphoto.com/es/en/portfolio/Nkarol

 

WICKING

When it comes to outdoor clothing, wicking is a fabric’s ability to pull sweat away from your body and move it to the fabric’s outer surface. This is important because it allows the fabric to dry quickly and keeps you from feeling clammy or cold.

 

INSULATING

Insulating refers to the fabrics ability to keep you staying warm. A good insulating fabric holds the heat that your body generates. Wool, down, fleece and synthetics are excellent insulators.

 

WATERPROOF AND WINDPROOF

Waterproofness is the ability of the fabric to keep your clothes from getting soaked by the rain. Windproof means that it blocks the wind from taking away the heat your body generates. These to properties are essential for outer layers such as rain jackets, rain pants and gaiters.

 

BREATHABLE

Important in all your layers, this helps your wicking layer dry out more quickly. When your layers don’t collectively breathe, then perspiration that’s wicked off your skin dries inefficiently and you can end up getting soaked by your own sweat.

 

WATERPROOF/ BREATHABLE

Waterproof breathable fabrics contain a membrane that keeps water out but allows the heat from the inside to be released. Technical shells will offer these types of fabrics. Lower end rain gear tends to be made of nonbreathable fabric. While these options are over half the price, you will feel like you’re wearing a trash bag.

 

SUN PROTECTION

Often times outdoor clothing will have an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating. These garments will help protect skin against the sun’s damaging UV rays.

 

 

Pin405
Share8
Tweet18
Flip
431 Shares